Cork is the material used for a mat on most LP cutting lathes as well as some quite esoteric turntables, including the EAR 'Master Disk' and some highly regarded models of yesteryear, and now on the Pro-Ject Cork Mat.
It has many good things going for it, including a very high resistance to any kind of resonance and a naturally 'grippy' surface which is soft enough to give good contact with an LP.
Just 2mm-thick, this mat will easily replace a typical felt or rubber mat and can also be put on turntables not normally provided with a mat – most arms will have enough height adjustment to compensate. It weighs very little and hence is unlikely to upset suspension.
In just about every situation where we tried the Cork Mat, it rewarded us with some very impressive bass. Low-frequency instruments seem to gain an extra couple of semitones of clearly audible range, while percussion and special effects have more impact.
Against this should be set a slight decrease in detail compared with results obtained using some other mats or, in the case of plastic platters, no mat at all.
There's some coloration and a little high-frequency smearing which does interfere a little with resolution and this probably also accounts for the slightly blurred imaging we heard too.
Perhaps the best result overall was on a glass platter, the cork seeming to react well with this basis and the sound benefitting from a nice lively character, in addition to the bass benefits already mentioned.
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